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Smiles Are Free, But They Are Worth A Lot!

They say that smiles are contagious, so you should go forth and contaminate as many people as you can!  But what if the people you are trying to contaminate can’t smile?  What if their smile is damaged, broken or missing altogether?  This can make a difference in every aspect of a person’s life, from their employment and success, to their relationships and confidence.

The Northern Kentucky Adult Dental Assistance Program has helped over 450 residents of Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties achieve the oral health they desperately needed. By providing fillings, root canals, crowns, cleanings, dentures and partials, we have helped to change lives.  The Oral Health Program, like many NKY Health programs, receives voice mails and emails of gratitude every day from people whose quality of life has improved exponentially.  Since receiving the care they needed, many have gotten jobs, started a school or training program, or found the confidence they needed to get out of a less than ideal situation.

The first year of the program has been an incredible journey.  We have found ways to improve client management to ensure the best possible experience for clients, as well as providers.  We have changed our internal processes several times as we learn and grow from practice and deeper knowledge of the industry in relation to the population we serve.  We have discovered that each individual has an “Oral Health Story” that is unique to them, and understanding that story and how it has affected them makes us more equipped to grasp their personal situation. Once we understand the client, we are better positioned to get them the help they need in a setting that fits them. Oral health can be an emotional topic for many of the clients for a number of reasons, and we feel it is important to recognize that and be sensitive to it.  After receiving help from us, we want them to spend their time smiling!

Aside from the aesthetic value of a healthy smile, there are overall health factors as well.  Food that is not chewed properly cannot digest properly.  A poor state of oral health has shown to have a deep relationship with diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, dementia, respiratory infections, pregnancy complications, infertility, erectile dysfunction, cancer, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Not to mention, abscessed teeth and infection can move to the bloodstream and have fatal consequences.  Sometimes, even medicines and treatments for various ailments and cancers can cause harm to the enamel of the teeth, resulting in decay and damage that is irreversible.  It is important to know that not every person that struggles with their oral health has neglected their teeth or made poor life choices.  Genetics, the side effects of medicine or collateral damage from unrelated health conditions all play a role in poor oral health.

The Northern Kentucky Health Department would like to thank the fiscal courts of Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties for recognizing the health needs of their residents, and the vision that drove them to fund this program. We are proud to partner with them to improve the health of our community!

By: Emily Rombach, Project Leader, Adult Dental Assistance Program